8 Superb Places to go Paddleboarding Near Sault Ste. Marie
Sault Ste. Marie’s location on the St. Marys River, where Lake Superior drains into Lake Huron, makes it a fantastic paddling destination. Good paddleboarding spots are all around, both within and beyond city limits. The best paddleboarding spots are where the water will be relatively calm—look for sheltered water with gentle coastlines. Nearby inland lakes abound in waterfront rental cabins where a paddleboard will be a handy accessory to have on hand for easy outings. Public access points are typically the best places to park and paddle on the bigger water bodies like Lake Superior, Lake Huron, or the St. Mary’s River. Here are some of the top spots to SUP in the area.
St. Marys River
Launch your paddleboard, or one you rent on site, at the Sault College Waterfront Adventure Centre. If you’re staying in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, it’s a short walk or bike ride away. Paddle from the Adventure Centre downriver to Bellevue Park for a two-kilometre return trip. The shoreline along the park is buzzing with wildlife, and you’ll hear ducks quacking and songbirds singing.
- Rent a paddleboard at Sault College’s Waterfront Adventure Centre, right on the St. Marys River. Ziibi Cafe onsite has a lovely patio for enjoying a drink and snack after your paddle.
- Go on a guided canoe and kayak tour from the centre or take a guided hike in the area. Thrive Tours is an indigenous-owned ecotourism group partnered with the Waterfront Adventure Centre.
- Grab a room at the Water Tower Inn, which caters to outdoor enthusiasts by providing storage for paddleboards, bicycles, canoes, and kayaks.
Thirty-five minutes north of Downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Harmony Beach is a sandy, shallow paddling spot with warm water. It’s one of the first glimpses you’ll get of Lake Superior along the Trans-Canada Highway north of town. Cruise the shoreline or make the three-kilometre round trip north to Irwin Island.
- Rent a paddleboard on your way out of the city at Great Lakes Outfitters.
- Take a guided hike, rent a canoe or camping gear at Forest the Canoe. These local guides have a deep knowledge of the area and are passionate about getting others excited for Algoma.
- Stay in a tent or trailer site at Harmony Beach Resort and Campground. Don’t miss their Friday fish fries.
Lower Island Lake
This quiet lake has residences and cottages, but also lots of undeveloped shoreline, just 25 minutes from Sault Ste. Marie. The public access is along Highway 556, on the lake's western end. The waters are calm and warm throughout the summer here.
- Rent a board and take a lesson from Superior East Board Shop, right on Lower Island Lake.
- Stay at the nearby Mountainview Lodge. The lodge or cabins have beautiful views of the Searchmont hills. While you’re there, rent a canoe or go on a guided ATV ride.
St. Joseph Island
Less than an hour from Sault Ste. Marie, St. Joseph Island is known for its maple syrup and cycle touring. It’s also a great place to get on the water. St. Joseph Island’s Hilton Beach is on the north side, facing the St. Joseph Channel, where it is protected from the swells of open water. This quaint community is a sailing hotspot with a large marina and amenities. You can launch a paddleboard from Forbes Community Park and head west toward Fisher Bay or beyond, exploring the wilder parts of the coastline. This trip can be up to eight kilometres round trip, mainly paddling undeveloped shoreline.
- Rent a bicycle at the Richard’s Landing marina to see the island from the land.
- Grab a bite to eat on the Tilt’n Hilton Steakhouse’s patio, steps from the marina
- Snack on delicious baked goods at the Black Bear Cafe and Eatery.
Shallow and sand-bottomed, Batchawana Bay is one of the best swimming spots on Lake Superior, which is saying a lot. Spend the day at the five-kilometre beach here, and bring along a paddleboard. The most fun you’ll have is playing around on the board right in front of the beach at this family-friendly location. For a challenging paddle, head south from the beach towards Batchawana Island.
- Find motel accommodations and a grab-and-go deli/bakeshop at Voyageurs’ Lodge and Cookhouse. The general store has anything you might need while camping. You’ve got to try one of their famous apple fritters.
- Reserve a site at the nearby Pancake Bay Provincial Park, which has another great beach for paddleboarding.
Through fall and winter, Lake Superior’s infamous gales are regular occurrences. A small group of hardy locals don thick neoprene suits, hoods, and mitts as they paddle out to surf these waves. It’s not for the faint of heart, and you’ll have to work for the waves, but the Lake Superior surfing scene is close-knit and welcoming.
- For local intel and gear rentals, reach out to Superior East Board Shop.
Lake Superior Provincial Park
There are fantastic paddleboarding spots on big and small water in Lake Superior Provincial Park.
With favourable lake conditions, launch your paddleboard from the sandy beach at Katherine Cove and make the two-kilometre round trip south to Bathtub Island. You also can paddleboard right from the Agawa Campground, enjoying the sandy beach there.
For a more adventurous paddle, drive down the 11-kilometre gravel road to Gargantua (in a vehicle with sufficient clearance) and walk from the parking lot to the water. It’s about two kilometres each way into the northern end of the harbour, but at the end is a sheltered beach. A 130-foot-long shipwreck, The Columbus, lies below the surface. On a calm day, you can paddleboard right over this wreck.
Some of the smaller inland lakes, like Rabbit Blanket Lake, are warm and sheltered. These are perfect for learning to SUP or early-season outings when Lake Superior is especially frigid. Explore the quiet shorelines of this one-kilometre long lake adjacent to the campground.
- Camp at the Rabbit Blanket or Agawa campground by reserving online.
- Rent a Paddleboard or Take Lessons from Naturally Superior Adventures’ qualified guides before venturing out on your own Superior SUP.
Make the trip further north to Wawa to enjoy fine paddleboarding in a beautiful setting. There is an access point to the Lake Superior Water Trail at the Harry McCluskie Memorial Marina on the Michipicoten River.
Paddlers can explore the Michipicoten River, paddling to the base of the stunning Silver Falls. You will have a good chance of seeing beavers and bald eagles along the way. If the weather cooperates, paddle down the two-kilometre long Driftwood Beach, part of Michipicoten Provincial Park, gazing through Lake Superior’s crystal clear waters. You can also launch at Sandy Beach, where the shallow waters warm up in the summer.
- Rent a Paddleboard or Take Lessons from Naturally Superior Adventures’ qualified guides. They are located right on the water with access to Lake Superior and the Michipicoten River.
- Stay at Rock Island Lodge, right at the mouth of the Michipicoten River, with four rooms and dome glamping opportunities.
Where to rent paddleboards near Sault Ste. Marie
Great Lakes Outfitters
162 Old Garden River Road, Sault Ste. Marie
Sault Ste. Marie’s original outdoor equipment store (formerly Joe’s Sports) has recently invested in a fleet of canoes, sea kayaks and standup paddleboards with a plan to offer rentals in 2022.
Sault College Waterfront Adventure Centre
18 McPhail Avenue, Sault Ste. Marie
705-759-2554 ext. 2920
This community hub on the shore of the St. Marys River offers canoe, kayak, and standup paddleboard rentals, as well as launching facilities and a waterfront café.
Superior East Board Shop
61 Cameron Road, Lower Island Lake, Algoma
A local board shop selling surfboards, paddleboards and gear. They also offer rentals and SUP lessons.
Naturally Superior Adventures
10 Government Dock Road, Wawa
705-856-2939 / 800-203-9092
Provides sea kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals for Lake Superior Provincial Park and the surrounding area. Also specializes in guided, multi-day sea kayak tours, paddling instruction, accommodations on Lake Superior, shuttles, and logistical support.